3:30 AM doesn't seem like an ideal time to work on faith.
Yet that's the time I find myself awake. Often. In my weakened, weary state, all the cares of my world come crashing down, gripping my mind, screaming for a solution. I know it's not productive to mull it over then, but my brain can't seem to get the message, and my heart beats fast and crazy thoughts, thoughts I can dismiss in the light of day, surface and take hold. I try talking myself out of it and force myself to stay in bed, all the while my body can't get comfortable, my eyes won't stay shut, and my mind whirs. I'm thankful for my husband's ability to sleep through my turning. And pillow flipping. And blanket wrangling. And sighing.
It feels like a battle.
I can't decide which is best, to stay put or get up and distract myself. I do both. I count sheep. I pray. I check Facebook. I read my Bible. I write out the feelings. I play computer games. I learn new verses to recite in my head. I breathe deep. All of it helps. Eventually. But usually not for a few hours.
I think of Psalm 16:7, I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me, and wonder if this is some sort of training program. Is God exercising my faith? Is He teaching me to turn it over to Him? Over and over and over? Is my 3:30 AM wake-up call His way of building my wimpy trust muscles? If I can believe the Truth about God at 3:30 AM with my heart pumping and rational thinking compromised, nothing's going to stop me in the day, right?
When I ask God to give me stronger faith, is this His way of doing it?
In 2 Corinthians 6:5 and 11:27, the Apostle Paul includes sleepless nights as part of the hardships he's endured for Christ, boasting of it almost like a badge of honor, proving his devotion. I guess I'm in good company. Though I didn't ask for it (or did I, when I prayed for stronger faith?), I am being drilled.
At 3:30 AM I relate to David's words in Psalm 13:1, How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide our face from me? But if I follow the Psalm to the end, he declares, I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.
God has been good to me, in sunny days AND sleepless nights. I have no choice but to submit to the training. I will keep fighting. I will endure. For worry gives opportunity for faith. Being unsettled in the middle of the night is a chance to get stronger, to ingrain what His Word says is true, to choose belief over anxiety.
Isaiah says of God, You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. The trust comes BEFORE the peace. I have to learn faith. I have to learn to choose God in the most vulnerable times, at 3:30 AM, with a weary body and tired brain and the fluctuating emotions that come with them.
Faith takes practice.
So I'll thank God for those rough nights, for His favor in putting me in His training program. I'll keep at it and seek Him in the dark and choose to believe.
I'll turn my worry into faith.
Photo Credit: Dr. Wendy Longo